Women in Azerbaijan
|Maternal mortality (per 100,000)||54 (2010)|
|Women in parliament||17.0% (2015)|
|Women over 25 with secondary education||90.0% (2010)|
|Women in labour force||61.6% (2011)|
|Gender Inequality Index|
|Global Gender Gap Index|
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|Women in society|
The State Committee for Family, Women and Children Affairs of Azerbaijan Republic is the primary government agency overlooking the activities in protection of rights of women in the country. There are no legal restrictions on the participation of women in politics. As of 2020, there were 22 women in the 125-seat parliament, including the Speaker of the National Assembly. The percentage of female members of parliament increased from 11 to 17.6 percent between 2005 and 2020.
In 2017, Mehriban Aliyeva (the president's wife) was appointed Vice President of Azerbaijan, the highest position a woman has occupied in Azerbaijan since the abolition in 1994 of the office of Secretary of State most recently occupied by Lala Shovkat.
In 2020, Sahiba Gafarova was appointed the Speaker of the National Assembly of Azerbaijan. As of the same year, Azerbaijan had one female cabinet minister (Mahabbat Valiyeva, Minister of Education), one regional cabinet minister (Natavan Gadimova, Minister of Culture of the Nakhchivan AR), one state committee chair (Bahar Muradova, chair of the State Committee for Family, Women and Children Affairs), one head of a regional executive government (Irada Gulmammadova, head of the Absheron District), Commissioner for Human Rights (Sabina Aliyeva), three ambassadors and one head of a diplomatic office. Women constituted 3 of the 16 members of the Central Election Commission and chaired of 4 of the 125 district election commissions. Despite the fact that as of 2016, 11% of the country's professional judges were women (including Sona Salmanova, Deputy Chair of the Constitutional Court), this remains the lowest proportion in Europe.
Participation in the job market
Though the majority of Azerbaijani women have jobs outside the home, women are underrepresented in high-level jobs, including top business positions.
As of 2017, 78.1% of all teaching staff (including 51.9% of all university lecturers), 64.9% of all medical staff and 40.2% of athletes in Azerbaijan were women. However, for the same period, women accounted for just 28.7% of civil servants and 20.9% of registered business owners.
In 1931, Leyla Mammadbeyova, born in Baku, became one of the first Soviet female aviators and paratroopers, the first one in the Caucasus and the Middle East. Around 600,000 natives of Azerbaijan fought in World War II as part of the Red Army, with 10,000 of those being women who had voluntarily signed up and served both as military and medical personnel, the most prominent ones being sniper Ziba Ganiyeva and pilot Zuleykha Seyidmammadova. During the active phase of the first Nagorno-Karabakh War in the 1990s, 2,000 of Azerbaijan's 74,000 military personnel were women, and 600 of them directly took part in the military operations. Military service for women is voluntary; currently there are around 1,000 women serving in the Azerbaijani army.
Though a secular country, Azerbaijan requires certification and registration for people performing religious rites. Muslim women in Azerbaijan can study to become certified mullahs and lead women-only gatherings, a unique local tradition that goes back centuries. As of 2016, there was one local female Lutheran pastor in Azerbaijan.
On 22 June 2010, the Azerbaijani Parliament adopted the Law on Prevention of Domestic Violence.
In 2000, Azerbaijan signed up to the Optional Protocol of CEDAW, recognizing the competence of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, after which it can receive and consider complaints from individuals or groups within its jurisdiction.
Rape is illegal in Azerbaijan and carries a maximum 15-year prison sentence. A new domestic violence law come into force in 2010, which criminalized spousal abuse, including marital rape. Nevertheless, others highlight that in reality many in Azerbaijan do not consider this as a crime and the prevailing culture does not encourage complaints about marital rape.
During 2011 female members of parliament and the head of the State Committee on Women and Children increased their activities against domestic violence. Media coverage of domestic violence issues also began to raise awareness of the problem. A 2010 law establishes a framework for investigation of domestic violence complaints, defines a process to issue restraining orders, and calls for the establishment of a shelter and rehabilitation center for victims.
However societal attitudes lag behind: 40% of Azerbaijanis surveyed in 2012 still believed that agree that women should tolerate domestic violence in order to keep their family together, and 22% agreed that there are times when a woman deserves to be beaten. The 2006 renaming of the state Committee on Women's Issues as the State Committee on Family, Women and Children’s Affairs (SCFWCA) has also been interpreted by some as a protectionist approach that views women as vulnerable “reproductive units" rather than independent individuals.
Timeline of women's emancipation
|1889||Nigar Shikhlinskaya became the first Azeri female to obtain a higher education.||Tiflis|
|1901||Empress Alexandra School, the first Azeri secular girls' school and the first of such kind in the Russian Empire, opened.||Baku|
|1908||Saint Petersburg Women's Medical College graduate Sona Valikhan became the first certified Azeri female physician.||Saint Petersburg|
|1908||Philanthropist Hamida Javanshir founded the first Azeri coeducational school.||Kahrizli|
|1910||Actress Govhar Gaziyeva became the first Azeri woman to appear on stage.||Tiflis|
|1911||Khadija Alibeyova published Ishig, the first Azeri-language women's magazine.||Tiflis|
|1912||The first Azeri female opera singer Shovkat Mammadova made her first stage performance.||Baku|
|1919||Azerbaijani women were granted the right to vote.|
|1929||Izzat Orujova became the first Azerbaijani female actress to act in a feature film.|
|1930||Gynaecologist Adila Shahtakhtinskaya became the first Azeri woman to earn a doctoral degree.|
|1931||Leyla Mammadbeyova performed her first flight and became the first Azerbaijani female aviator.||Baku|
|1932||The first Azerbaijani ballerina Gamar Almaszadeh debuted in Shakh-Senem.||Baku|
|1938||People's Commissar of Justice Ayna Sultanova became the first Azerbaijani female cabinet minister.|
|1949||Biologist Valida Tutayug became the first Azeri female member of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences (founded in 1945).|
|1964||Sakina Aliyeva was elected Chair of the Supreme Soviet of Nakhchivan, becoming the first Azerbaijani female head of parliament.||Nakhchivan|
|2007||Manzar Ismayilova became the first Azeri female pastor.|
|2009||Natavan Mirvatova was promoted to major general, the third highest military rank in Azerbaijan and the highest a female has ever been elevated to.|
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